How Ellen Broke Twitter

When Ellen tweeted a selfie taken at the Academy Awards on Sunday, it broke a major record and became the most retweeted tweet EVER.

Pretty big deal, right?

She beat out President Obama’s “Four More Years” tweet, that held the previous record with over 700,000 retweets.

But, what was it about this picture that caused it to be such a success?  And what can brands learn from this moving forward with their social media efforts?

Well, here’s 5 reasons why it went totally viral.

1.The Tweet was Hilarious

There’s no denying it- Ellen is really really funny.  Her comedic chops are top-notch, and she isn’t afraid to push boundaries (she ordered pizza at the Oscars, I mean, COME ON!)
Her tweet “If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars” was silly but filled with the perfect amount of humor (we all know the struggle of taking group selfies and not having long enough arms!). It made people laugh and smile.

Brands- take note! When humor is used (tastefully), it can help your content become Internet gold.

2. Visual content is key

Consumers LOVE seeing visual content . Hubspot reports that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco)  And research shows that 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco)
Pictures and videos make for a more entertaining and enjoyable experience, and help consumers feel a closer relationship with the brand. That’s why infographics and branded content are usually have high number of retweets.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words: well it’s also worth tons of retweets.

3. The Picture Played Off a Current Trend

With the creation of Snapchat, selfies have been all the rage. Celebrities, politicians and people all across the world take selfies to share on the Internet. Ellen played off this huge trend, which was both smart and pretty hilarious.

4. Timing is everything

Live tweeting and real-time marketing.  Tons of brands have been doing it on Twitter, and, when the content is just right, it works. People are in that mindset when an event is happening, and they’re looking to see what other people are saying. Again, though, it’s all about having the right content and sharing it at the right time. Ellen did just that.

5. Celebrities (and personalities) have power

Celebrities have the power to influence others! People listen to what they have to say, and they care about what they think. Real-life people have the 2-most retweeted tweets of all time, more than any of the biggest international brands on Twitter.

Besides the amount of attention they get from the media, celebrities have something that many brands don’t: an authentic personality. To get consumsers more engaged, brands should create their own “voice” and “personality.” (here are some great tips on how to do that: Make it authentic and real and relatable.)

Did you retweet Ellen’s selfie? Why do YOU think it was such a phenomena?

Technology That’s Raising “The Bar”

A bar is a place for drinking and having fun and socializing and dancing.
It’s usually not a place you’d expect to find some innovative technology.
Until now.

We’ve all seen it before.

A group of people sitting together in a pub.  But they’re not looking at each other, and they’re not talking to each other either.

They’re all on their phones.

What are they doing with their lives?


Technology is awesome and everything, don’t get me wrong.  I tweet constantly, and enjoy being able to call my sister in DC while I’m hundreds of miles away in Boston.  But I firmly believe there’s a time and place for everything.  And when you’re out with friends, it’s not the time or the place to check your Facebook newsfeed or make a Vine video.  And sometimes, it prevents you from experiencing things IRL (in real life).

But what’s the solution to the problem of overusing technology?

A small beer brand in Brazil came up with the answer by using… you guessed it, technology!


Polar beer wanted to make drinking beer with friends a social event.  So, they designed a high-tech beer cooler that blocks the signal of cell phones within a 5-foot radius.  That means that no one at the table will get a chance to be on their phones. And without phones, people are more encouraged to interact and laugh and joke and sing and be with their friends.  To live in the moment and enjoy it.

Check out how this innovative technology encouraged other people to ditch their own technology.

This is such a simple idea, and a great way to have people associate Polar beer with sharing fun, loving moments with friends.

Another beer company also decided to bring technology to a bar too!

buddy cup

Budweiser designed the innovative Buddy Cup in 2013 that encouraged people who met in bars to connect with each other on social media.  With the simple clank of two glasses together, strangers who shared awesome conversations would automatically add each other as friends on Facebook and be able to stay connected long after the bar closes for the night.

What’s really unique about both of these ideas is that these brands are both using something common and simple (a beer cooler, or a glass) and making it part of an experience.

They’re not creating high-tech glasses and coolers.  They’re starting a movement that involves connecting with people and living in the moment.  Both of these campaigns are examples of how technology is transforming not only the messages that brands are trying to send to consumers, but also the behavioral changes that brands are trying to create.  Technology isn’t just relevant in billboards and advertisements and online banner ads.  It can be used to start a conversation or create experiences.

Let’s drink to that!

Marketing Memories

“Paul W. Swansen tagged a photo of you.”


Every day, millions of people all over the world see a message like this on Facebook.

And they usually feel some sort of emotion before clicking on that photo.  They might be filled with embarrassment (“please tell me this was not from last night!”) or they might be bursting with excitement (“yes, they finally put that picture up!”), but normally, they’re not confused.

But I bet your would be if you were tagged in a photo at an event you never attended.


Your face is right there in the picture, at a random location you’ve never seen before.  And you’re surrounded by people you’ve never met.  But you have no recollection of ever being there.

What’s going on?!?!?!

Alzheimer Nederland is behind this marketing experience that showed everyday people what it’s like to forget people, moments, events, etc.  In short, what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s Disease.

The organization photoshopped images of people into photographs from “fake” events and had help from other organizations who created photo albums and hosted these fake images on their Facebook page.  Then, they tagged the individual people in the photos to stir up the pot and create a confusing, eye-opening experience.


There was a specific call to action:  spread awareness by letting your friends experience this too.

Those tagged in photos were encouraged to go to the event website and upload their friend’s pictures so they too could be placed in these images and experience the confusion those with Alzheimer’s deal with everyday.

The organization was smart by first tagging Dutch celebrities and social influencers, who really kick started this campaign and helped the cause receive the attention it deserves.

Here’s a video summing up the Facebook campaign:

I’m just fascinated because most organizations like this tend to play the guilt card in their marketing efforts by making individuals feel bad for not helping out (think Sarah McLachlan’s ASPCA commercials). They show people in need, play sad music and try to tug on the heartstrings on the consumers.

Alzheimer Nederland could have done something like this , but instead instead of showing people in need, they’re making the audience feel the need these people have.  It makes them have a stronger connection to the brand, and creates of community of people who can share this experience with others.

The Facebook campaign is also a reminder to aspiring marketers- you don’t need to be working on Coke or Tide or other major name brands to produce creative, inspiring work. 

This campaign is a prime example of that.  It has inspired participation, lead to the creation of shareable content, and has given people the power to share an experience (not just a picture or a message or a greeting) with someone else digitally.

How Brands Celebrate Valentine’s Day

It’s that time of year, when people obsess over roses and chocolates and jewelry.

But brands, on the other hand, focus on likes and views and shares.

Brands are taking advantage of the festive spirit by producing some great content and getting consumers to engage with them online. Here are some great content pieces created for this year’s Valentine’s Day!

Dumb Ways to Die Steals Your Heart

Remember those adorable little creatures from the viral “Dumb Ways to Die” video (I mean, how could you forget them?)  Well, two of them are back for an adorable 30-second-clip that will certainly steal your heart!  Get ready to watch this video over and over (try not to “awww,” I dare you!)

Century 21 Valentine’s Day Poems

Things are getting steamy at Century 21 houses all across the country!  They recently posted Valentine’s Day non-rhyming poems on their Youtube page that are short and sweet (and hilarious!)

Just another example of great, smart work done by Mullen.  Bravo!

Necco Tweet Hearts

Have to give a gift for that special someone (who just so happens to be a social media fanatic)? Why not do it through Twitter?  Necco (the maker of Sweethearts) started a new Twitter page, aptly named Tweethearts, that let’s users tweet messages to be created on sweet hearts.  So cute, right?

GE “Geeky” Valentine Cards!

Flirting has never been geekier with these Geeky Valentine’s cards that GE posted on their Facebook Page!


Check out the whole series here and try them out on any engineers or scientists (guaranteed to make them blush….maybe.)

How are you celebrating you Valentine’s Day?!

Pay With Posts: The Future of Social Currency

Forget paper money and credit cards!

That’s what Marc Jacobs said last weekend when they opened up the doors to the Daisy Perfume Pop Up Shop in New York City. Consumers could leave their wallets behind because the store was accepting a new type of payment.  Customers exchanged posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MJDaisyChain in exchange for branded products like perfume, jewelry, and even handbags.


The store (on 462 West Broadway) was only open to the public from Friday, Feb. 7 to Sunday, Feb. 9, which fittingly coincided with New York Fashion Week.  The opening event including a stellar guest list, with stars like  Anna Kendrick (Actress, Pitch Perfect), Meghan Markel (Actress, Suits), and Jamie Chung (Actress, Believe), to name a few.

Daisy is one of Marc Jacobs’ most popular lines, and the brand is very active on Facebook and Twitter.  Check out how they promoted the pop-up shop on the streets of NYC.

But, why would a brand give away so much product for free?  Well, by using social currency, the brand is gaining something that is extraordinarily valuable: word of mouth (WOM.)  It’s such a crucial part of maintaining a successful brand that, in fact, 2 out of 3 marketers say it is actually more effective than traditional marketing.  Marc Jacobs could have produced some commercials, put some print advertisements in a magazine, but instead, they created these pop-up shops that improved their social media impressions and garnered media attention from sites like Mashable, Forbes, and more. 

This idea of social currency, however, is not entirely new.

Kellogg’s opened up a Tweet Shop in London back in 2012 during Social Media Week, where consumers exchanged tweets for 100-calorie snacks!  This gave consumers the chance to actually get their hands on the product and encouraged them to share their thoughts on the brand with family and friends.


But even before that, the book “Oh My God What Happened and What Should I Do” had the idea to start a campaign called “free-for-a-share,”where they gave free downloads to individuals who tweeted about the book.  The idea earned them a CyberLion at Cannes and you can still go to the website to download a free copy of the digital marketing book (only if you tweet about it though!)


So, what is the future of social currency?

While social currency is awesome, don’t expect it to replace actual money.  After all, businesses need to make a profit.

The examples here show that, for brands to try to use social currency to gain social media impression, they need to be well-established with loyal customers and a strong social media/online presence.  The items that are given away need to be small and low-price, yet significant, and should only be available for a tweet for a limited amount of time, in order to spark a sense of exclusivity and urgency.

I expect we’ll see more of these one-time, short-term “free-for-a-share” campaigns from brands in the upcoming years.


Tweet like a Pro on Super Bowl Sunday

It’s our Grammys, Tony Awards, Oscars and Emmys all rolled into one.

The best of the best prevail, and the entire country watches.

Oh yeah, and some people play football too.

I’m, of course, talking about the Super Bowl.  Ad people across America tune in to see what brands are paying big bucks for those coveted 30-second spots. Each year, more and more people join the online conversation to talk about which commercials they loved, and which ones they hated.

If you’re like me (you take bathroom breaks while the game is on and wait with batted breath until the next ad so you can tweet about it) and you want to actively participate in the social media conversation, then you need a game plan, just like the players on the field. Here, I’ve compiled a guide for tweeting like a pro on Sunday!  You’ll find the best hashtags to follow and other resources so that you can celebrate the Super Bowl like the greatest Mad Men and Mad Women out there!

Let your voice be heard: 

3 Percent Conference Tweet-up  Female creative directors at some of the best advertising agencies in the county will be drinking beer, watching the commercials and live-tweeting their thoughts on the Super Bowl ads this Sunday.  Boston-ers will congregate at Hill Holliday, while San Francisco-ers chill at The Hive.  They’ll discuss both the portrayal of women in the TV spots, and the genuine creativity of the ads!  I’m so excited to see what these ladies have to say about the commercials. You can join in on the conversation too, by following and tweeting with the hashtag #3percentsb.  All the males folks out there can get involved too, with the hashtag #admen.


The lovely ladies at the 3 Percent Conference have also provided us with this nifty scorecard to keep track of the ads!  I’m definitely printing this out for Sunday! Game on!


#AdScrimmageWant to weigh in on the best and the worst of the Super Bowl commercials?!  Watch, tweet and vote for your favorites in Twitter’s Ad Scrimmage!  Voting starts on Sunday as soon as the first commercial airs and ends on Tuesday!  Follow along with the hashtag #AdScrimmage to see what other people think!  Rock the vote!


#NotBuyingIt– Sick of sexists ads? (I feel ya!)  Call out brands that portray women in a sexist, offensive way using the hashtag #NotBuyingIt. RSVP to the Facebook Event and learn how you can get more involved.


By the Numbers:

#BrandBowl– So, you like numbers?  Then this idea, originally conceived by Mullen in partnership with Radian6, is totally perfect for you.  #BrandBowl analyzes public reaction to advertisements during the Super Bowl. now handles the scoring with Pointslocal by evaluating the chatter on Twitter to determine which brand performed best.  They use this specific formula:

(Positive tweets + Neutral tweets – Negative tweets)/ Total brand tweets.

The brand with the highest score will be crowned the winner of the 2014 #BrandBowl (Volkswagon’s “Game Day” Commercial was last year’s winner)!  The battle is on!  See how brands are doing here.

#Hashtag Bowl– Analysts everywhere, rejoice!  MarketingLand and Hootsuite will be examining how social media is leveraged during the Super Bowl.  They’ll track and tally the social media mentions during Super Bowl commercials and report on pre- and post-game news and analytics.  Check the latest stats here.


Additional Resources:

@superbowlad– Check out the latest news in Super Bowl commercials, and take a walk down memory lane to see all your favorite past SuperBowl ads at this website’s archives.

Super-bowl An entire site dedicated to Super Bowl ads.  Need I say more?

Tweetchat– Want to follow some of the hashtags listed above?  This site allows you to show all tweets with a specific hashtag  in a continuous, organized stream.  I used this site all the time, and highly recommend it if you want to follow #3percentsb, #NotBuyingIt, #AdScrimmage, #BrandBowl, or more!

I hope this post helped you to get ready for Sunday?  Who else is excited? I can’t wait to read all your tweets!

The Brand that Launched A Thousand Virtual Stores

Let’s role-play for a minute.

Imagine that you were born and raised in South Korea (fun fact: South Koreans are the 2nd hardest working people in the entire world.)  You really pride yourself on your dedicated work ethic.

In fact, you’re so busy working hard and being super successful at your job that you barely have time to do simple chores.  And when you do manage to make time to wash the dishes or grocery shop, you are usually so tired from a day at the office that you find the task at hand tedious and frustrating.

Oh, and you are always on your smartphone.


Now, let’s switch it up.

Imagine that you are Tesco, the #2 supermarket in South Korea.   And it is your mission in life to beat out the South Korea’s #1 grocery store, E-Mart.


The problem?

E-Mart had more stores in South Korea.  So, what are you to do?

That word is important.  “Do.”  Messaging can be effective in persuasion, but words can’t make someone suddenly enjoy doing something that they hate.  You (Tesco) have identified a problem that cannot be solved by messaging.  You have to do something.

But what?

How can you (Tesco) make South Korean people  shop at your grocery store, when they:

1. Barely have the time to go there and

2. Don’t actually enjoy it.

Tesco knew they had to find a way to make grocery shopping more convenient and less stressful!

And then, there was the light bulb moment!

Wait…what if, instead of bringing the consumers to our store, we bring the store to our consumers“- someone at Cheil, Tesco HomePlus’s ad agency (probably).

Right then, in 2011, the idea of a virtual store was born.


Tesco Homeplus  decided to bring their grocery stores to the consumers by placing “virtual stores” in subway stations in Seoul. While commuter were waiting for their train home after work, they could  scan the QR code of the items they wanted to purchase (using the smart phones the South Korean people are attached to) which would add the items to their online “grocery bag.” These items would be delivered to their house by the time they got home from work.  This idea let consumers shop on the go, and turned “waiting for the time” time into shopping time.

What makes this idea so special was that it was the first virtual store, and it inspired many other brands, like Toys-R-Us, Kate Spade, EBay, Peapod,, etc. to execute their own virtual stores of sorts.  Check out this list for other QR virtual stores (check out which one is #1!)

And just like Helen of Troy’s beautiful face launched a thousand ships, Tesco’s big idea launched a thousand virtual stores.

It’s almost poetic.

But Tesco didn’t just create a virtual store.  And they didn’t just create the first virtual store.  What they created was a new shopping experience: one that focused on understanding consumers and making their lives easier.

And although it was a guinea pig project, it was pretty successful.


Through this campaign, 10,287 consumers visited the online Tesco (Homeplus) mall using their smartphones. The number of new registered members increased by 76%, and on-line sales climbed 130%

Tesco Homeplus also placed virtual stores in the UK airport in 2012, and the people couldn’t get enough!

For years to come, Tesco will be remembered as the King of virtual stores.  The mother of all stores virtual.  It’s quite a legacy to have.

Watch this case study video to see how the idea came to life:

Who’s jealous that they didn’t come up with this idea first?